UCL News


Study Finds English Are Healthier than Americans

3 May 2006

John Ydstie: A new study in the 'Journal of the America Medical Association' comes to a conclusion that has surprised even the researchers who conducted it.

Middle-aged whites in England are significantly healthier than middle-aged whites in the United States. And that's despite the fact that the US spends twice as much per person on healthcare. … Joanne Silberner has more.

Joanne Silberner: The researchers, from England and the US, were just trying to figure out why exactly it is that poor people are less healthy than rich people. They looked at health data from thousands of people in England and the US, all of them 55 to 64 years old and white.

They only looked at whites so they could see the effect of socioeconomic status without respect to race. Professor Sir Michael Marmot [UCL Epidemiology & Public Health] said the results they came up with hit him and the other researchers right between the eyes.

Professor Marmot: Americans have more diabetes. Americans have more heart disease. Americans have more respiratory disease and other diseases, as well.

Silberner: That's twice as much diabetes in the US, nearly twice as many people reporting cancer.

Professor Marmot: It was a bit of a shock. I just didn't imagine that we'd find it consistently across the board with worse health in the US compared with England.

Silberner: In several categories - diabetes, blood pressure and cancer - the poorest Brits, those with the lowest third of income levels, did better than the richest third of Americans. … And what about all those Brits who have moved to the US, should they worry? Maybe if they've lived here a long time. British researcher Michael Marmot says, over time, migrants tend to take on the health patterns of their new countries.

Professor Marmot: The longer they've been in the new country the more the patterns of health and disease of the new country tend to affect the migrants. …

Morning Edition, National Public Radio (USA)